Pax (funcrunch) wrote,

Race report: Big Gay 10K

This past Saturday (unusual for a race, which are usually on Sundays) I ran the Big Gay 10K. I'd been looking forward to this race for months, having run it all three years of its existence. This year I decided to fundraise, and thanks to my generous sponsors donated $300 to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. I aimed for a time of 62 minutes (10 min/mile) for this race; my previous 10K PR, 1:08:13, was set at last year's Big Gay 10K.

Since the race wasn't scheduled to start until 9 and was about a 30 minute walk away, I decided to have breakfast first, making sure to finish shortly after 7 a.m. I've been experimenting with eating before running and figuring out how much time I need to allow my food to digest. In the past I've gotten cramps and other problems when eating solid food within three hours of a run, but now I can handle it with two hours' digestion time. It was still a bit risky eating before a race though. (I had my usual breakfast: oatmeal with fruit and soymilk, and a cup of tea.)

I got to the meadow at Fort Mason way too early and the music was blaring, so I ventured off to make use of a real restroom rather than a porta-pottie. When I returned, the music had stopped completely. Just before the start, which was delayed until 9:15, the announcer said that neighbors had complained and the music had been shut down. Fortunately they decided to risk turning the speakers back on for pre-race announcements, at least.

I lined up mid-way through the pack. The amusing pace marker signs, same as last year, were: "I think I can win this thing"; "I'm fast, but not that fast"; "I'm comfortable with mediocrity"; "Beyotch, not in these shoes!"; and "Bringing up the rear". The weather was overcast and in the low 50s; I still wore shorts, having overheated in my tights during my last race, but didn't take off my jacket until just before the start.

Drag queen MC "Mutha Chucka" ushered us off, and my progress was slow until we got out to the Marina, with several bottlenecks of runners. So when I reached the first mile marker at 7:37, faster than I'd ever run in my life, I said aloud "No WAY that was one mile". I overheard some other runners guessing that they were actually kilometer markings, but that didn't make sense either. Mile two was the water stop, but not otherwise marked, so I forgot to hit my lap timer. The remaining mile markers, once I reviewed the times, also seemed off; very unlikely that my pace on this virtually flat course varied from 7.6 to over 13 min/mile.

The one slight uphill was returning to the meadow for the finish. By then I was tired and panting. The couple in front of me joined hands before we were in sight of the finish line. I should have tried to pass them at this point, but was too tired. And indeed, when I saw the finish line and started my sprint, I had to slow down as I could not easily pass them at that point. I didn't want to cause a problem, even if it meant sacrificing a few seconds of my own time and possibly not getting a decent finish-line photo.

I finished by my watch in 1:02:07, just short of my time goal. Checking the official results later, I saw my time listed as 1:03:01, which sounded like the "gun time". This was a chip-timed race, which normally means that the time taken to reach the starting line is subtracted from the total time. Sometimes the gun time is listed in the results too, but I did not see a chip time alongside it, so put in an inquiry. A couple of days later I heard back from the race organizers that the timing company's equipment for "real time" scores was not available this year, so the gun time was all that would be listed. They flippantly suggested on their Facebook page: "Feel free to make up your own time... we’ll never tell!"

This attitude irritated me. Other runners said this was just a fun run and not worth complaining about, but I pointed out that there wasn't much point in having an officially certified course distance (which is a non-trivial undertaking) if the times weren't going to be accurate. While I'm certainly not a competitive athlete, one important part of why I sign up for races like this is to get more accurate times than are possible with my own estimations or at my non-chip timed club races. Even more troubling, another runner pointed out that the course looked to be possibly .2 miles short of the certified distance, as we didn't do the initial loop that was indicated on the course map.

So, this run will get a large asterisk in my running log, with both my own recorded time and the official time noted, along with the possible distance discrepancy. I still had a good time, looking at all the fun costumes, though as usual I was lonely being by myself while others hung out with their friends and took photos of each other. I have two more 10Ks scheduled this year, Bridge to Bridge on Sep 30 and the DSE Embarcadero 10K on Nov 11, with the US Half Marathon in between. I hope to break 60 minutes in the Embarcadero race. Got to keep training.
Tags: fitness

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